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Tsipras and Archbishop of Athens agree to a company to exploit Church properties

New era in relations between the atheist left-wing government and the Church of Greece? A secret meeting between Prime minister Alexis Tsipras and Archbishop Ieronymus II took place on Wednesday, October 3, newspaper Ethnos revealed on Sunday.

Top on the agenda was the issue of Church properties and how to allow the state have a share on the revenues of the commercial exploitation of them.

Tsipras and Ieronymus reportedly decided to establish a company that will exploit the Church properties and the revenues will be shared equally between the State and the Church.

The company idea was pending since Antonis Samaras was prime minister (2012-2014).

The total value of the properties of the Greek Church has not been estimated yet.

One more topic high on the agenda was the relations between the Greek State and the Church of Greece that have suffered some set back from time to time.

The government is determined to proceed with Constitutional changes that will include also the separation between the State and the Church. The prime minister has often referred to this particular issue.

Such a move is considered as certain to trigger friction not only among the church leaders but also within the society as issues affecting the Church and Greek Orthodoxy are very sensitive and often taboo.

The latest friction was caused when the Education Ministry decided to reform the teaching of religion in schools and turn it from pure Greek Orthodox dogma to a more broader abroad with comparative religion lessons including all religions.

It is worth noting that the meeting between Tsipras and Ieronymus took place in the shadow of a conflict between the Archbishop of Athens with the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew.

In a last minute move, Archbishop of Athens cancelled a meeting with Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew on Wednesday evening. The meeting was scheduled to take place on Thursday morning.

“The meeting is cancelled due to work overload,” Ieronymus’ office said in a laconic statement.

however, behind cancelling the meeting that was planned long ago was the conflict between the two over the Church of Agios Georgios in Ano Patisia district of Athens that is claimed by both the Church of Greece  and the Ecumenical Patriarchate.

The church has not been in operation for the last two years. Following a decision by the Archbishop Greek police recently sealed the Church.

However, the Patriarchate had appealed to the Council of State that last week confirmed the right on the Church to Bartholomew.

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